Mesa, state work to complete first leg of Gateway Freeway - East Valley Tribune: Mesa

Mesa, state work to complete first leg of Gateway Freeway

State Route 24’s first phase will open by year’s end to ease congestion, connect airport

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Posted: Sunday, March 24, 2013 8:39 am | Updated: 3:50 pm, Tue Mar 26, 2013.

Access in and out of southeast Mesa, including Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, will improve greatly come fall when construction on a part of State Route 24 is complete — years ahead of its original schedule.

Right now, more than 30,000 cars a day travel north and south up Ellsworth Road to Elliot Road to catch the 202 Freeway, making Ellsworth one of the most travelled streets in the East Valley’s largest city.

The first segment of State Route 24 will ease that congestion and improve access into Gateway and future businesses in the area.

State Route 24 was originally scheduled to be worked on in 2016 as part of the Regional Transportation Plan. That plan was put into place after voters approved a half-cent sales tax continuation in 2004, with funds designated for transportation projects.

But Mesa saw the need for the new freeway and found a way to make it happen sooner.

Using Highway Project Advancement notes — or bonds — the city was able to construct the project earlier. Arizona Department of Transportation began work on it in March 2012. The one-mile stretch should be complete by year’s end, said ADOT spokesman Doug Nintzel.

“Our staff worked closely with the city on its plans for the use of HPAN bonding (Highway Project Advancement Notes) in order to advance the project by four years,” Nintzel said. “The $71.4 million project represents the first leg of the Gateway Freeway. The dominant features will be the elevated ramps that are taking shape to connect Loop 202 to State Route 24 and provide drivers, including Gateway Airport travelers, with easier access to Ellsworth Road and the surrounding area.”

Because the work was done now, the city is also benefiting from lower construction costs, said Alan Sanderson, Mesa’s deputy transportation director.

“With the favorable interest rates and really good construction prices, the city is going to end up in the end with no debt or out-of-pocket costs for advancing the freeway. It’s a win to the city to open the freeway to Ellsworth sooner. It’s a win for the overall program because we can get it constructed for less money than it would be three to four years in the future.”

The city will be paid back in the year the Regional Transportation Plan would have constructed the project, Sanderson said.

The Gateway Freeway will be a six-lane freeway corridor from Loop 202 (Santan) south to Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport when it is complete.

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